February 9, 2013

Mankiw: "Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor and Your Economists, Too"

Gregory Mankiw, the former chairman of the Bush Administration's Council of Economic Advisers, writes in the New York Times:
In just the last few weeks, the economics department at Harvard, where I am chairman, has brought in six candidates to be considered for two assistant professor positions. Of the six, three are Americans, one is German, one is Argentine, and one is a New Zealander. ... 
THIS competition from abroad may reduce the salaries of American-born economists like me, but it has improved the university, much to our students’ benefit. For one thing, such competition keeps down the university’s labor costs. Many parents are shocked at how high college tuition is, but it could be worse.

At first, I assumed that when Dr. Mankiw, who has not only tenure but an endowed chair at Harvard (he is the Robert M. Beren Professor of Economics), says, "This competition from abroad may reduce the salaries of American-born economists like me," he didn't really mean "like me." Instead, I presumed, he meant "like my Assistant Professors, those ungrateful wretches, always whining about how their wives need money to buy disposable diapers."

But, I now see that Dr. Mankiw has revolutionized the Harvard Economics Department in accordance with the principles of economics. 

Every Monday morning at 9 am, each endowed chair in economics at Harvard is auctioned off for the week to the lowest bidder from around the world. This week, Dr. Mankiw is the Robert M. Beren Professor of Economics, but only because, after a spirited round of online bidding, he agreed to accept a salary of $182.50 for the 40-hour week to fulfill all the duties, such as they are, of the endowed chair. (As a Republican economist, Dr. Mankiw doesn't believe minimum wage laws apply to him.)

In the Free Market competition, Mankiw aced out last week's Robert M. Beren Professor, Moldovan Ph.D. Vlad Snegur, who ultimately bid $185.00, but refused to go lower, saying "Harvard nice job, but wife say she leave me if no can afford detergent for cloth diapers again this week. So, drive cab this week. But next week, me be Charles W. Eliot University Professor and Larry Summers can go drive cab."

Well done, Dr. M.!

58 comments:

LemmusLemmus said...

The availability of lower-cost imperfect substitutes (assistant professors) from abroad should indeed be expected to reduce the salaries of tenured professors. The closer what the assistant professors deliver is to what Mankiw delivers, the less Harvard should be willing to pay him. (Tenure does not mean fixed salaries in the U.S.) Other universities hiring foreigners for tenured professorships also reduces Mankiw's bargaining power.

Anonymous said...

Mankiw is a scumbag. He's made a fortune by selling his intro. econ textbook. It's the main intro econ text for colleges and there's a new edition put out every other year so kids are forced to shell out $100 for a new one.

Anonymous said...

These days venting off hot air in front of a captive audience of students (whether done well or badly 'tis showmanship), is oddly described as 'labor'.
Unforyunately in the past decades, as so many millions of Americans have lost all contact with any vestige of actually working with their muscles, the old term 'labor' from the Latin lavore, which up until recent had a very specific meaning as regarding the reality of physical effort has been degraded by persons whose sole exertion is to lift a piece of chalk misappropriating the word themselves.
A more honest description for Mankiw's paid-for performance is 'time'.

Anonymous said...

Introducing a low wage economist from the former soviet union to Harvard would endanger their delicate keynesian wa.

"No, no. Trillion dollar coin no good idea. Politburo tried making fresh money like that in 80s. Big booboo. Made soviet union go ka-boom."

Say what you will about eastern europeans. But those aged 40-60 can't be beaten for hard-nosed realism and (bitter) life experience.

Which makes them unsuitable for Harvard. Let alone the economics department.

That institution's harmony, its wa, depends on shutting out the real world and the sort of play-acting that only 3rd generation east coast bankers of scots-irish descent are able to pull of.

No. Moldovan economists at Harvard are a no-go.

Anonymous said...

Well since professors, such as Mankiw, are most responsible for advising the govenrment on economic matters, not to mention, also teaching the geniuses that brought us the sub-prime crisis, they're lucky keynesian economics is even a discipline.

J said...

Steve, you are wrong. Mankiw wrote the best Intro textbook of all and he is the top of America's "smart fraction". He could easily double his income in Singapur. All his collegues of his rank could do equally or better in Asia. Stanley Fisher is leaving the post of Chairman of Bank of Israel: he would be a great catch.

Anonymous said...

He could easily double his income in Singapur.

Not because he can produce something valuable. He can command a high income because of his status as a Harvard celebrity professor. It accrues from his position. He doesn't really bring anything to the table.

DaveinHackensack said...

Great post. Swiftian.

Podsnap said...

The arguments as to Mankiw's relative chops or not as an economist are beside the point.

The point is that the influx of Moldovan economists will not affect his income either way. The competition that he espouses (like many of the things the elite preaches to us) is "good for thee but not for me".

J - Mankiw may well be able to earn more in Singapore, but presumably he doesn't live there because it is a boring shithole.

Shouting Thomas said...

The problem here is that American born assistant professors probably don't have babies.

They're more likely in Idiocracy style extended adolescence. Waiting for just the right conditions.

Anonymous said...

Harvard needs to comb Bangladesh for profs.

AMac said...

Makniw is on the cusp of an innovation that would vastly improve the caliber of policy-making in the U.S.

His revolutionary ideas should be extended to all occupations related to public policy.

Once our nomenklatura start feeling the refreshing breezes of sub-minimum-wage competition from foreign sachems, their productivity will soar. And imagine their gratitude as they are freed from the tyranny of sucks-to-be-you detachment and irony. How delightful it will be, to experience the fruits of one's own ideology, first-hand.

Anonymous said...

Any reduction in assistant professor salaries would be unlikely to lower Harvard tuition, because as Ron Unz pointed out here, tuition is a minor source of income for Harvard compared to capital gains from its endowment. Moreover, the salaries of Harvard's academic staff are small change compared to what it paid to the managers of the endowment fund.

JerseyGuy said...

Steve,
Almost done reading Jonathan Last's new book on demography. I'm sure you are aware but your "Affordable Family Formation" theories were quoted pretty extensively. Any chance that you are going to review the book for Vdare or Taki's Mag?

Anonymous said...

Just like you don't hear Republican doctors agitating for importation of foreign physicians or allowing radiologists in India to interpret scans...
It's all about protecting quality of care!

BTW, those foreign graduate students and professors are usually unintelligible and don't care about teaching quality since all that matters is publishing anyway...

rightsaidfred said...

"good for thee but not for me".

This.

The world consists of tree houses. The goal is to scramble up into a tree house, pull up the ladder, and throw feces at the unfortunate below.

Well played, Mankiw.

Ex Submarine Officer said...

The most important thing I learned getting my MS degree was that I wanted to have nothing more to do with academia and its oh-so-progressive hypocritical elite fattening themselves on a system of oppression and exploitation that would put the Middle Ages to shame.

Maguro said...

These guys should be required to live in Yakima, WA for year before they're allowed to opine on immigration.

Bostonian said...

Immigration to the U.S. does raise the income of immigrants substantially, and I think this effect is larger than any depression of the income of current U.S. residents. Economists such as Bryan Caplan whose utility function gives equal weight to everyone in the world will favor open borders. Steve Sailer thinks U.S. policymakers should give more weight to the utility of U.S. citizens, and I agree with him.

Anonymous said...

These statements by Mankiw are particularly despicable given that most academic positions in the US are now filled by adjuncts who are paid as little as $2000 a course and, needless to say, receive no benefits.
Further, given the relative US economic decline over the past four decades, with the accompanying decline in social/economic mobility, one might legitimately ask whether Harvard University's vaunted economics department is worth a bucket of warm spit.

Anonymous said...

There is no end to outsourcing (or rather there is a end when only our ruling class have decent jobs - as you say they will never cut their own wages). I'm a lawyer and recently deal I found out that the other side had outsourced their legal work to the Philippines.

MattW said...

I think Mankiw would genuinely be okay with a lower salary. My guess is that his income from textbook sales dwarfs what he gets from Harvard so he wouldn't even feel it.

Anonymous said...

Podsnap: Singapore might be boring but it definitely isn't a shithole. I have many super rich friends from the us, Australia, and Europe all moving there for low taxes and high quality of life. Higher per capita than USA and highest percentage of millionaires in the world. It is Monaco on drugs!

Now academic shithole compared to Harvard maybe.

Douglas Knight said...

Mankiw could have said "economists like my students." If he has as much loyalty to his students as most academics, this is a real cost to him.

Jeff W. said...

Good work, Steve.

I think it was Saul Alinsky who said, "Make them live up to their own principles."

Anonymous said...

Mankiw is a preening sack of bird droppings. His job is structured so he won't be impacted (what no Hindus?) by these these white immigrants. American born assistant professors (the grunts who actually teach the H rabble) will suffer but what does he care so long as he gets to talk his book

eh said...

I wish Mankiw would tell us how salaries for diversity deans stack up against those for asst. econ profs.

Anonymous said...

This is appallingly stupid. At Harvard, Mr. Mankiw can look down on the rest of humanity, but he must be aware of how the American academic job market is laying waste to people's lives.

Take a look at the depressing comment sections over at "100 reasons NOT to go to grad school": http://100rsns.blogspot.com/

It's an ugly business, academe.

Anthony said...

Anonymous at 10:11 - You've got it backwards. Singapore is like Monaco *off* drugs.

Anonymous said...

I suspect the baby boomers WILL carry out these proposals AFTER they have retired (and of course retirement will not be effected) the baby boomers will give one last f-u to the country they hate - but only AFTER they are gone.

For example, take the case of a childress baby boomer who inherits some land in a otherwise developed area - he will not turn it over the nature conservancy, rather, he will turn his home into a somali refugee center (after he is gone ) to 'get back' at those racist republicans accross the street.

Anonymous said...

great, can we have a free market for primary dealership licenses too?

Nalen said...

Exactly. The hypocrisy oozes from their pores like sweat from a Botswanan goatherder. Its much like the diversity pledges of these heads of academia: Going forward I demand that we will increase the number of women and minority faculty coming in our department. Translation: Let's screw the white guys in the next generation so that we can look noble, and generous. If they actually believe so strongly that there has been unfair sex and race discrimination going on, then surely they must believe that they would have been the ones to benefit, not the next generation, who have yet to even start as professors. You NEVER hear, "I believe wholeheartedly in multiculturalism, so much so that I feel that I have unfairly benefited as a white male over the past 2 and a half decades as a tenured professor. I am hereby stepping down so that a more deserving minority can take my place."

As Svigor puts it,"Diversity for thee, not for me."

Nalen said...

Actually, at this point a lot of colleges have gone 1 step further. The number of open tenure-track positions are few and far between, and many a PhD now must pursue lower paying instructor or part-time adjunct faculty, or visiting faculty positions; its not uncommon to see them chain a couple together and teach part time at one university, drive across the city and teach afternoon or evening classes at another university.

Not surprisingly, minorities have higher privilege, esp. black or hispanic candidates. They get the red carpet treatment.

Commodore Jim said...

"Say what you will about eastern europeans. But those aged 40-60 can't be beaten for hard-nosed realism and (bitter) life experience."


Not the Polish prof. I work for. He's forever expressing support for Obama and seems to have all the 'correct' leftwing views that you'd expect in a stereotypical professor in a modern university. Of course, given how opposite his real-life behavior is when it comes to where his kids go to school, where he lives, how much of his salary he gives away, etc. its clear that its all BS posturing. I wouldn't be surprised if he feels like Br'er Rabbit back in the briar patch in the modern US university, having grown up under the wing of Soviet Russia. So maybe Eastern Europeans DO make the best professors here.

Anonymous said...

Mankiw apparently doesn't support diversity in intro econ textbooks. Most colleges use his textbook. Why doesn't he stop selling his textbook in order to promote textbook diversity? Why doesn't he give other economists who've authored textbooks a chance?

Anonymous said...

Curiously, I don't think it matters any more what is taught in Economics, where, or by whom, since the US is clearly headed to a post-fiscal situation in which monetary considerations (like value, obligations, debt etc) simply cease to exist.

Anon.

Mr. Anon said...

I increasingly just chalk up economists and tenured professors to the loathsome ranks of the parasite class, along with ambulance chasing attorneys, careerist prosecutors, "community organizers", telephone solicitors, and pornographers.

Peter the Shark said...

How much does college tuition depend on professors' salaries anyway? My impression is that college professors lived quite decent middle class lifestyles back in the 1960s and 70s when tuition was far lower than it is now. Seems to me increased tuition is caused by a number of factors including the out of control growth of university administrations and services, the far more luxurious physical infrastructure compared to 40-50 years ago, and the desire to fund affirmative action on the backs of the middle class.

Biscuit Jones said...

"I increasingly just chalk up economists and tenured professors to the loathsome ranks of the parasite class, along with ambulance chasing attorneys, careerist prosecutors, "community organizers", telephone solicitors, and pornographers."


-HEY! You can say what you want about professors, lawyers, judges, politicians and the like, but I'll have you know that hot porn models perform a valuable service for the public!

Anonymous said...

I am missing your point...

Obviously Prof. Manikw has competed successfully against all comers at many levels to get his Ivy League Phd and have the career that landed him his endowed chair. I don't see how the fact that he now has a tenured post makes him a hypocrite.

Anonymous said...

Even the seemingly good spirited Cowen got his moobs in a twist when the OWS youngsters protested Mankiw/the professor class.

Link 4 here from MR.

http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2011/11/assorted-links-269.html

jody said...

oh, the economics department at harvard has been "improved" alright. right into irrelevancy.

need i repeat my story from nearly 20 years ago when a young jody in his first year as an undergraduate was being regaled by a princeton economics professor about why the national debt absolutely, positively does not matter, and here's the math which shows why.

most of these guys have been dead wrong about several topics in their own field for a long time now.

i remember when i looked up the salary of christina romer and was dismayed to learn she was paid about 300 grand a year to teach absolute bullshit to undergrads at cal.

you guys do not want to know about this esther duflo person who obama has appointed to be his chief of global economic development.

i still haven't heard ONE ECONOMIST from a leading US university actually come out and say that mexico would do better if it destroyed the monopolies which run the country.

Silver said...

If they actually believe so strongly that there has been unfair sex and race discrimination going on, then surely they must believe that they would have been the ones to benefit, not the next generation, who have yet to even start as professors.

Not really. Such a prof is unlikely to believe that there should never be ANY white professors. He is more correctly seen as wishing to bring into being the set of conditions under which he himself would have been happy to compete. He is then able to tell himself that even if did 'unfairly' attain his present position he would have attained it anyway under the set of conditions he now wishes to impose.

This will sound like I support such propositions unless Sailer posts my other comment, in which it is made clear that I consider diversicrats the lowest of the low.

Anne said...

Your criticism of Mankiw is off the mark. I'm sure there are dozens of younger, hungrier PhD's out there who can teach as well as he can for a fraction of the price. But then I'm sure there are plenty of actors out there who are younger and handsomer than Tom Cruise and would be willing to star in the next Mission Impossible for a fraction of his price. But they can't open a movie the way he can, so you couldn't put together the financing for the special effects budget, so you have no choice but to pay Tom his fee.

Similarly, you cannot get Charles Elliot to fund the Charles Elliot Chair just by promising him you are going to hire a really excellent teacher. For the money Elliot is putting down, he expects to turn on CSPAN and see the Charles Elliot Chair testifying in front of Congress, pick up the Wall Street Journal and see an op-ed from the Charles Elliot Chair solving the issues of the day, and conceivably wake up one morning and see that the Charles Elliot Chair has won the Nobel Prize. The Moldovan guy cannot do any of that for you, so his existence is totally irrelevant.

I should also add that your picture of the suffering Moldovan taxi driver is exaggerated. Economics is not one of these disciplines where the majority of PhD's are never going to get a job in the field. Economists aren't limited to teaching; you can work for the Fed, any of a number of federal agencies, the IMF, the World Bank, think tanks, consulting firms, Wall Street, industry, etc., etc, etc. Generally PhD's find a career track job as soon as they graduate.

The foreign students who can't find a prestigious job here generally go back to a good job in their home country. It's not like engineering where many countries simply don't have a cutting edge high tech industry. Every country has a treasury department and a central bank.

Anonymous said...

Anon at 7:53 AM
"There is no end to outsourcing (or rather there is a end when only our ruling class have decent jobs - as you say they will never cut their own wages). I'm a lawyer and recently deal I found out that the other side had outsourced their legal work to the Philippines."


Are you the commenter K from Israeli Water Engineer? You seem like a reasonable, affable professional guy who gets it, without letting it get to him. Your good natured realism reminds me a little of Steve Sailer, if he were a Jewish lawyer. You should start your own blog.

ben tillman said...

Economists such as Bryan Caplan whose utility function gives equal weight to everyone in the world will favor open borders. Steve Sailer thinks U.S. policymakers should give more weight to the utility of U.S. citizens, and I agree with him.

Actually, utilitarianism reaches the same result as long as the interest of future people is taken into account.

Caplan's program of subsidizing the less-productive (by allowing them to capture the positive externalities produced by the more-productive) will result in an increase in the proportion of the less-productive in the population.

In other words, Caplan supports the replacement of the more-productive by the less-productive, and there's no way in hell that maximizes utility in the long run.

Anonymous said...

Steve, you should keep an eye on the Financial Times' in-house immigration enthusiast, the magnificently named Cardiff Garcia.

http://ftalphaville.ft.com/2013/02/08/1378862/employer-power-high-skill-immigration-and-what-were-really-talking-about/

Anonymous said...

He's a Keynesian Republican, I didn't know there were any of them left. I thought they all went the way of Rockefeller Republicans like Lowell Weicker. Check that, a New Keynesian economist, so apparently he believes in Keynes but didn't support the Obama stimulus package. Still trying to reconcile that part, I see that Krugman, Stiglitz, and Blinder are New Keynesians, but so are Mankiw, Taylor, and Fischer. So they can work for either party? BTW Steve, is Borjas a Keynesian er New Keynesian, he seems to have the classic free market background, but seems to like to quote early editions of Samuelson's Econ 101 textbook when talking about immigration's effect on labor, you know before it became bad form to point it out.

Anon87 said...

Let's hope this takes off. Free Textbooks Spell Disruption for College Publishers

Anonymous said...

Free Textbooks Spell Disruption for College Publishers
love it.
now if we can just open source primary dealerships

Nalen said...

"Such a prof is unlikely to believe that there should never be ANY white professors. He is more correctly seen as wishing to bring into being the set of conditions under which he himself would have been happy to compete."

Nonsense. Next time, bother to read what someone writes before chiming in. I never claimed that they wanted no white men to ever be professors, so that is a ridiculous straw man. As I say, if they actually believed what they claim, they would bow out themselves, someone who got in during a 'more racist' time, and someone who has had a job under this situation for a while, instead of expecting the next gen who have not been working as a prof to give up their spots.

Its a typical liberal behavior- presenting oneself as noble and sacrificing by giving away what other people work for.

ben tillman said...

Obviously Prof. Manikw has competed successfully against all comers at many levels to get his Ivy League Phd and have the career that landed him his endowed chair. I don't see how the fact that he now has a tenured post makes him a hypocrite.

1. It's naive to think that "he" competed successfully.

2. He's a hypocrite because immigration takes away US citizens' tenure as US citizens. Without borders, there's no meaningful distinction between US citizens and others, i.e., US citizens have no privileges and immunities that a random Bangladeshi does not also possess.

David Davenport said...

Economists aren't limited to teaching; you can work for the Fed, any of a number of federal agencies, the IMF, the World Bank, think tanks, consulting firms ...

Good reasons to despise economists.

Anonymous said...

Off topic.

I graduated from the University of Arizona in 1978. I had a Mexican(american) professor. He told me he was 1 of 5 in the entire country? Could that be true, and if so, could it still be true?? What do you think, Steve??

Anonymous said...

. It's naive to think that "he" competed successfully.

2. He's a hypocrite because immigration takes away US citizens' tenure as US citizens.

Why is this naive

2. Huh?

J said...

You are all "meando fuera del tiesto" (missing the point completely). Say you need a delicate brain surgery, you will want only the very best. Prof. Mankiw needs an assistant (future replacement) and he wants to select the best available. He says he is happy to have six worthy candidates to choose from. Three of them are Americans (African Americans? Hmong Americans? Samoan Americans? no, probably it is a Chinese, a Korean and Jew) and three from other places. Would you choose your surgeon on the basis of being your cousin? Good luck, see you

Maxwell said...

" J said...

You are all "meando fuera del tiesto" (missing the point completely). Say you need a delicate brain surgery, you will want only the very best. Prof. Mankiw needs an assistant (future replacement) and he wants to select the best available. He says he is happy to have six worthy candidates to choose from. Three of them are Americans (African Americans? Hmong Americans? Samoan Americans? no, probably it is a Chinese, a Korean and Jew) and three from other places. Would you choose your surgeon on the basis of being your cousin? Good luck, see you"



-Yes, China is well known for providing the best medical care on the planet.

It seems you are the one who is missing the point. In the first place, foreigners often are being picked to "increase diversity" particularly if their skin color is brown, regardless of whether there is an American of equal or better talent available. But let's take on faith that your proposition is true, that opening things up internationally does increase the pool of talent available. Okay, you also bring in someone who brings in their political baggage, ideology, etc from their other country who usually wants to help themselves and their own country at the expense of the US and its citizens, and who often believes in all manner of ideologies that the average American disagrees with or finds downright bizarre. In addition, you open the door for chain migration based on the foreigner. The prof you hired may be a good deal, but what about his wife? What about his parents, what about his cousin, what about his 4 kids in tow who more likely will be closer to average- which in the case of brown people is well below the average for a US citizen. It does little to help the country out if these University heads try to build up their school at the expense of screwing up the country around them.

Eric Rasmusen said...

If you look at the Harvard Economics faculty page, you'll see that the first three full professors are Aghion, Alesina, and Antras. Professor Mankiw's salary and prestige within the department would certainly be higher if there were no immigrants. He's tenured, to be sure, but that doesn't mean you'll get raises, and whether you're a full prof at Harvard or an assistant prof, you're good enough that you won't stay unemployed long if you're back on the job market.


http://www.economics.harvard.edu/faculty